Healthy Home, Healthy You

As spring arrives, it’s natural to feel a pull toward healthier things.  The re-emergence of fresh fruits and vegetables leads us to eat better.  Sunshine and warmer temperatures beckon us to more outdoor activities.  We naturally just feel better as the days start to get longer, and the world bursts to life outside our window.  However, on the other side of that pane of glass, three months of clutter and stale air can rob us of that wonderful feeling of freshness and new life.  That’s because our health deals with our whole being, including our environment’s effects on us.  Read below for four quick and easy ways to help your home feel as healthy and full of life as that spring day outside.

1. Set the Stage for A Healthier Diet
We all know that eating better helps us to feel better.  We also know that those cold, dark winter months can help fuel a propensity toward comfort foods that don’t do our waistlines any favors.  That’s why one of the easiest things to do to help your mood, focus, and energy level is to start your spring cleaning in your pantry.  Those packages of chips, baked goods, and other “empty calorie” options will not only continue to beckon you to occasionally binge as they take up space, but they’ll also clutter the pantry, and distract from healthier, fresher options.  Clean them out, and make space for fruits, vegetables, and other healthy options.

And, speaking of fruits and vegetables…  Don’t underestimate the impact of having fresh options on hand.  One of the easiest ways to do this is to make space for fresh options, not only in your pantry, but also in your yard.  There’s something about harvesting cucumber or tomatoes from your own garden that increases your likelihood of actually using and eating them, and all it takes is a small time commitment and a patch of earth with afternoon sun.  You’ll also get the added benefits of fresh air, sunlight, and exercise, as you tend your plants!

2. Clear the Air
There’s no debate that there is something about fresh air that just makes you feel healthier.  So, it’s no wonder that after three months of breathing the same stale air we feel stifled.  Small particles build up in the air over time and have little room to dissipate with limited circulation during the winter, and by spring can build up to levels that can cause meaningful health problems, such as increased incidents of asthma and even heart disease.

Luckily, the fix here can be as easy as purchasing an air purifier, to help clean these particles out of the air, as well as taking advantage of warm afternoons and opening the windows to increase circulation.  You can also make a difference in the amount of particulate matter in the air by doing small things like brushing pets and using soy candles, instead of traditional paraffin varieties.

3. Avoid Extra Chemicals When Cleaning
While we all prefer the smell of a freshly cleaned bathroom, and I’ll admit, I love the smell of a freshly dusted room, (the odor of dusting spray takes me back to my childhood chores), the “smell” of clean often comes with a price.  Many “off the shelf” cleaners pack a punch due to the presence of active chemicals, or are heavily fragranced to make them more appealing.  These chemicals often linger in the air, or on cleaned surfaces, and can make their way into our lungs or onto our skin, or even our food.

As you engage in spring cleaning this year, go the organic or natural route.  While you may pay a little more for your store-bought cleaning agents, you’ll breathe easier.  Also, raid the pantry for on-hand items that pack a cleaning punch, such as essential oils, baking soda, vinegar, or lemon.

4. Re-Think Food Prep and Storage
The quality and nutritional value of your food can make a big difference in your overall health, but did you know that how you cook and store your food can also have a large impact?  While you may be going more green, eating local, or even focusing on organics, the tools you use to prepare and store your food may be adding unwanted chemicals to your diet.  For instance, non-stick Teflon pans, which are an ease to clean and allow you to cook food without fear of it searing to the pan, shed small amounts of their non-stick coating onto your food over time.  Also, while inexpensive and convenient, plastic storage tubs for leftovers can leach out chemicals into your food, especially when used during reheating.

Try safer options for preparing and storing your meals, such as stainless steel or copper pans, and glass containers.  These may require a bit more capital upfront, as well as a little extra time to clean, but the investment is worth it when it comes to your health.